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Devil's Island Lovers
cast: Genevieve Delor, Andres Resino, Howard Vernon, Dennis Price, and Rosa Palomar

writer and director: Jesus Franco

97 minutes (18) 1974
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Tartan Grindhouse DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Gary McMahon
For even a sometime admirer of the eccentric oeuvre of Jess Franco, the man's work can sometimes be excruciatingly tedious. Luckily, Devil's Island Lovers (aka: Quartier de femmes) does not fall into this category, and is actually an example of good old Franco at his most restrained. This is an entry into the bizarre cinematic sub genre known as WIP (women in prison) films - another one of Franco's was the 1968 flick 99 Women. Despite the prospect of some pretty hardcore material, Franco here plays it all rather safe, and his film suffers not a jot for this unusually subdued approach.

Two young lovers (Genevieve Delor and Andres Resino) are sentenced to life in a South American prison colony for a crime they did not commit, and it's down to their long-suffering lawyer (Dennis Price) to get them out of this pickle. Surprisingly, Franco uses the film to state some pretty overt social and political commentary instead of focusing on the usual cheap titty shots. The prison warden (played with aplomb by Franco regular Howard Vernon) is initially shown as a slightly sympathetic character, but then goes on to represent the inflexible and immovable nature of the law by refusing to accept that some of the women he's imprisoned may not exactly deserve their fate.

The viewer is treated to several catfights, a few soft-focus lesbian scenes and assorted other murderous shenanigans, but the emphasis here is on the failings of the prison system itself - a labyrinthine behemoth of an establishment that uses corruption, family connections and personal favours to keep driving forward and consuming the innocent as well as the guilty.

All in all, this film won't win over many new fans, but for the discerning trash movie cineaste there's plenty here to keep you happy.
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